in association with Supporting ICT in maths With
employability high on the agenda and
education cuts looming, Andy Kemp from Taunton School, argues for increasing the use of specialised ICT, and CPD to help get the most from technology in the mathematics classroom
widely acknowledged is that mathematics underpins this technology; the iPad, the PSP, the jet engine – you name it and maths played a role in its creation. With the rate of technological development and
the ever-increasing focus on employability, there is a recognised case for encouraging strong mathematical
Talking CPD Empowering the teacher
CPD is no longer about simply sending a
teacher on a course, says Graham Newell
“ALL THE evidence from different education systems around the world shows that the most important factor in determining how well children do is the quality of teachers and teaching. The best education systems in the world draw their teachers from among the top graduates and train them rigorously and effectively, focusing on classroom practice. They then make sure that teachers receive effective professional development throughout their career, with opportunities to observe and work with other teachers, and appropriate training for leadership positions.” The Importance of Teaching, The Schools White Paper, November 2010.
Everyone agrees that we need to strive constantly to improve the quality of our teachers. But is the answer more CPD or better CPD? Of course, the answer is both. Many are now
recognising that simply sending teachers on more courses is just not the answer. Not because the quality of the material or teaching is lacking, but because only a very small percentage of the information and skills taught ever reach the classroom. Quite simply, adults learn better and faster from experience; contextualised learning. So, in response to this, new approaches are emerging, based around building communities of practice, coaching and mentoring.
Rather than one-off courses, the best development results from on-going, contextualised projects aligned with individual objectives and School Improvement Partners. Giving teachers the time to integrate, reflect and practise helps to embed knowledge and new skills.
Build a repository of ideas, thoughts and resources that can be shared quickly and easily to solve
immediate problems and to answer tricky questions. Every teacher should develop a personal learning network (PLN) to surround themselves with like- minded people, each with something different to offer. Something as simple as Twitter, with its exchange of ideas, questions and resources, acts as an incredible PLN with educators across the world.
Teachers who work hard, support other colleagues and actively engage in their CPD should be recognised.
Independent study This does not have to mean undertaking an MA or PhD, there are amazing free resources and accessible courses at the touch of a button. NAACE, Vital and others provide access to on-demand courses, resources.
In all walks of life, it is clear that collaborating improves outcomes, as well as saving time and money. Teachers are discovering this. Indeed, a growing trend is for teachers to take part in “teachmeets”, where they come together to deliver two or seven-minute presentations about how they use ICT resources in their classroom. It is often possible to learn more from our colleagues in the space of 30 minutes than a whole day at a course; you can see what they do in practice in relation to your own students and teaching environment.
In house CPD
The array of expertise within every school runs high, quite often we don’t know that the science teacher down the hall has excellent ICT experience or that the maths teacher has a wealth of free resources to support integrated learning. What is clear is that the CPD pendulum is swinging towards the individual and the teaching community. The shift of ownership from top-down provision to bottom-up sharing is growing; in these exciting technological times, it is relatively easy and cost-effective to bring such communities together. What is also clear is that implementing adult-
friendly approaches has been shown, in some studies, to result in up to 95 per cent of new pedagogical strategies being embedded in classroom practice, with the consequent impact on pupil outcomes.
• Graham Newell education consultant for IRIS Connect. Visit www.irisconnect.co.uk
ECHNOLOGY PLAYS a crucial and encompassing role in our lives, one that increases year-on-year. The technological revolution is in full swing and no-one would deny the impact that it has on our lives, both work and leisure. What is not as
skills; as the subject forms the foundation of much of this century’s innovations, a workforce skilled in mathematics, along with the other STEM subjects,
is a crucial way of ensuring that a nation can sustain itself. If the main aim of educators is to help pupils attain knowledge and prepare themselves for the world outside the classroom, then technology and learning are as inextricably linked as technology and business. It makes perfect sense to ready young people for industry by using tools which help develop the skills and knowledge that will be called upon in the workplace. This is where ICT comes in. Some subjects, such as maths, benefit hugely
from technology simply because of the springboard it provides to help them achieve a greater level of understanding. Teachers like me who advocate the use of ICT in maths lessons are not arguing against the need for the basics of a subject. The basics are the foundation for future understanding, but knowledge of the practical application of the subject and a relational understanding of the different mathematical concepts is what is really needed. For this, ICT can be incredibly useful, helping
improve the relational understanding of the subject by offering multiple mathematical representations that demonstrate how different mathematical concepts link together. Understanding the different topics in maths lessons is important, but without teaching pupils how these topics link, to each other and to the world around them, we cannot expect them to understand the big picture of how the subject really works.
To make technology work for us...
It is sometimes claimed that using technology in any way in lessons is beneficial for pupils belonging to the “digital generation”. This perepstive is overly simplistic and misses the crucial idea that it should never be about the use of technology, but instead about the appropriate use of technology. To that end, it is essential that the equipment we use should befit the purpose and, although a laptop or iPod Touch certainly have their uses, maths calls for more specialised equipment. The crux of the issue is that specialised equipment
often requires specialised training. A lack of comfort and familiarity is often the main cause of resistence to regular use of ICT from professionals. This is where CPD is
CPD sources and associations
• TeachMeet: www.teachmeet.org.uk
• The National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics: www.ncetm.org.uk
• T3 – teachers teaching teachers to provide CPD for the appropriate use of educational technology in the teaching and learning of maths and science: www.tcubed.org.uk
• The TDA CPD database: https://cpdsearch.tda.gov.uk/
• Learning and Skills Improvement Service STEM Programme: www.excellencegateway.org.uk
• The Mathematical Association: www.m-a.org.uk
• Association of Teachers of Mathematics: www.atm.org.uk
• Association of Mathematics Education Teachers: www.ametonline.org.uk
• National Association of Mathematics Advisers: www.nama.org.uk
• Mathematics in Education and Industry: www.mei.org.uk
• Plus e-magazine: www.plus.maths.org
• Nspiring Learning: www.nspiringlearning.org.uk
crucial for teachers, a fact recognised by the National Union of Teachers, which is behind the movement for increased teacher ICT training. In 2008, the union stated that it is imperative that school support staff are “provided with more support to help them get to grips with using the wide range of technology now available”. There are barriers to regular CPD in teaching;
hectic schedules, no ring-fenced funding, and a lack of funds for supply cover are often the biggest hurdles. No formal CPD requirement for teachers in England and Wales, coupled with budgetary constraints, means that this picture could be set to continue, but there are other ways for teachers to obtain CPD that are flexible or cost-effective enough to fit in with the primary aims of their schools. The first and most basic of these is peer training and
sharing of best practice on an in-house or an informal local basis, such as “teachmeets”. Often, there may be the odd tech-savvy teacher who
can lead the way; internal workshops or taking videos of how this teacher uses technology in his or her lesson to show other members of staff can offer a step in the right direction. Similarly, suppliers offer free product training and
will visit teachers on-site to outline ways to get the most out of the resources. Instruction for one teacher, followed by peer training, can help to overcome the obstacle of lack of funding. Aside from training courses offered by the Training
and Development Agency for Schools (TDA), the cost of which may be prohibitive in times of funding cuts and claw-backs, there are organisations offering targeted CPD at no cost to the school. The international T3 (Teachers Teaching with Technology) focuses on maths and science with free nationwide workshops. The organisations can arrange a free INSET session on-site and will work with the school beforehand to ensure the session meets the specific objectives of the teachers involved. In addition to training days, there are numerous
online resources such as training videos or podcasts, lesson plans and activities to lighten the administrative load for teachers. The Teachers TV website is a useful source of video tutorials and online resource banks give step-by-step instructions, as well as teacher- created lesson plans to engage learners with different mathematical topics. The BBC’s education site also offers helpful information for teachers – and for learners – and Cambridge University’s Plus e-magazine is a mathematics teacher’s paradise.
Subject associations play a role
Professional organisations play an important part in professional development in teaching. There are numerous subject associations for maths and many will feature “how to” guides in journals and publications, as well as host events around the UK for teachers. Perhaps the most influential event for subject-
leaders is the British Congress of Mathematical Education (BCME), which is timed to occur every four years between its international counterpart ICME. There is a cost for attending such events but the sheer number of professional development opportunities, best-practice guidance, peer-to-peer training and opportunity to exchange ideas will certainly justify the cost of attendance. Ultimately, encouraging teachers to embrace
technology and undertake regular professional development is a responsibility which lies with school leadership teams. What the profession needs is an easier route to CPD;
one that does not add to the administrative burden that the profession endures. The job of teaching is a rewarding, challenging and ever-changing one. Support for those on the chalkface must come from the top down, otherwise the lofty principles behind curriculum changes and new initiatives will fail to meet the needs of pupils and industry.
• Andy Kemp is head of mathematics at Taunton School in Somerset.
SecEd • February 3 2011
| Page 2
| Page 3
| Page 4
| Page 5
| Page 6
| Page 7
| Page 8
| Page 9
| Page 10
| Page 11
| Page 12
| Page 13
| Page 14
| Page 15
| Page 16